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Atlantis Healthcare scores $20m venture capital deal

Tuesday 17th August 2010

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One of New Zealand's single largest venture capital investments, $20 million, has just been obtained by Auckland-based Atlantis Healthcare to globally expand its unique programmes for helping patients stick to their course of treatment. 

London-based White Cloud Capital is putting up the $20 million injection into Atlantis, which will remain 50% privately owned, to expand its individually tailored patient programmes beyond its initial New Zealand, Australia, UK and European presence. 

Based on common venture capital rate of return metrics, this could see a future company value in three to four years of $100 million. 

Atlantis Healthcare says it is the market leader in patient-tailored programmes to tackle non-adherence to prescribed treatments.

In the US healthcare system alone, non-adherence is estimated to cost US$290 billion a year. The challenge in the past has been for the healthcare industry to acknowledge there's an issue, and then to have an effective way to deal with the problem, says Atlantis chief executive Michael Whittaker. 

"As a GP writes a prescription, they assume their patient is going to be adherent. Yet we know for a fact, 20% of patients don't even go to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription in the first place. We know that 50% to 60% of chronic diabetes, asthma and obesity patients don't carry on these medications as they should after six months. 

"It's a problem that costs billions, a problem in every country, something to base a career on," he said. 

Atlantis has developed evidence-based programmes to improve prescription adherence, which rest on a "smart piece of software that can input an individual's beliefs and concerns".

"To get effective interventions and programmes that are effective, you need to talk to the individual one on one," Whittaker said.

"You need to address their beliefs and concerns and try to influence their behaviour.

"We continually learn through contact," he said.

"In turn we turn out tailored responses based on that continuous learning. Contact could be as simple as an email, or intensive as a nurse home visit, the sending out of specific magazines, or another consultation with a doctor. It varies significantly, depending on what works."

With 120 employees already, Atlantis is establishing a research centre adjacent to its current Auckland operations.

"We're investing a seven figure sum to continue to lead the world as relates to prescription non-adherence," says Whittaker.

"We want to collaborate with as many professionals as possible to capture the knowledge that's there. There's some amazing research that has no commercialisation path; learnings that are wasted and that could make a difference."

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